The terms “introvert” and “extrovert” have been thrown around in random language countless times, but these categories may not mean exactly what you think they do. Many people may be confused when trying to assign themselves to one of these categories because they have had both good and bad social interactions. The real question is: what even is an introvert or an extrovert?
Being an Introvert
Primarily, being an introvert does not mean being awkward. WebMD describes introverts as people who “feel more comfortable focusing on their inner thoughts and ideas, rather than what’s happening externally.” This definition emphasizes scenarios in which an introvert is most comfortable. However, it does not say that introverts hate social interaction in general. In fact, the main difference between introverts and extroverts is that “introverts…turn to their own minds to recharge, while extroverts seek out other people for their energy needs.” This means that introverts are drained by social interaction, while extroverts are refreshed by social interaction.
Being an Extrovert
As expected, extroverts are polar opposites of introverts. According to HealthLine, extroverts prefer social settings as opposed to being alone, and they have many friends. They would be described by these friends as “outgoing and optimistic.” Another interesting quality in extroverts versus introverts that you might not have thought of is how they approach problems. Extroverts prefer to talk things out when they have a question or issue, while introverts prefer to think to themselves. Extroverts are stimulated by social interaction, which makes them have outgoing, bubbly personalities.
Causes of Introversion and Extroversion
The causes of these two personality types are unclear to scientists, but there has been research conducted on the neurological functioning differences between them. For instance, WebMD explains that “researchers have found that introverts have a higher blood flow to their frontal lobe than extroverts do. This part of the brain helps you remember things, solve problems, and plan ahead.” This clarifies the reasoning behind introverts’ tendencies to be observant and thoughtful. This also reveals why extroverts tend to be more spontaneous.
Overall, the stereotypes of introverts being shy and extroverts being unrestrained are not always true. The real difference between extroverts and introverts is how their neurological functioning reacts to social situations, not how they may seem from the outside. If you want to know if you are more of an introvert or extrovert, take a quiz on MBTI!